image courtesy of The Cultural Services of the French Embassy
The Cultural Services of the French Embassy and Albertine Books, the dynamic bookshop and cultural center operated by the French Embassy in New York, announced prominent American and Russian journalist, professor, and author Masha Gessen as the curator of the fifth annual Festival Albertine, which is themed “Reimagining Democracy” and takes place October 30 – November 3. Informed by experience as a witness to affronts to democracy today, Gessen has often urged people to open their eyes to such challenges, and to use their imagination to picture what is further at stake. Many thinkers from France, America, and across the Francophone world are similarly united by a pressing concern over surging demagoguery and democracy’s fragility. For the five-day free public event, which exemplifies Albertine Books’ commitment to an intellectual exchange between French-speaking cultures and America, Gessen aims to present a forward-thinking examination of the future of democracy—beyond what some see as its current crisis—building on resonant contributions to discourse on democracy, autocracy, and contemporary politics. Gessen has invited a diversity of artists, activists, writers, social scientists, politicians, and journalists—spanning cultures, generations, and areas of expertise—to come together under the idea that unstable times offer up an opportunity to consider much more than the mere restoration of the status quo. The incisive minds convened by Gessen will look panoramically at what has been missing in democratic society—even in moments where many have presumed it complete or unquestionable—and thus expand the lenses through which we might reimagine it. Among the speakers addressing these concerns in this year’s festival—which takes place just before the midterm elections in the U.S.—are Sophia Azeb, Eric Fassin, James Fishkin, Cynthia Fleury, Johanna Hedva, Aleksandar Hemon, Siri Hustvedt, Joseph Stiglitz, Ingrid LaFleur, Yann LeCun, Phia Menard, L’Oiseau Mouche Theater Company, Laure Murat, C. Riley Snorton, and many more. All events are free and will be streamed live at For a full calendar of Festival Albertine’s events, visit the festival’s home page.